Businesses that use renewable natural gas, or RNG, created from food and yard waste can reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 90 percent or more by switching from diesel to the clean energy source, according to a guide produced by nonprofit Energy Vision and funded by the US Department of Energy.
Turning Waste into Vehicle Fuel: Renewable Natural Gas—a Step-by-Step Guide for Communities lays out a roadmap for businesses and cities to assess the potential for producing renewable natural gas. The guide outlines six steps from quantifying the organic wastes generated and determining what local vehicle fleets are best suited for the fuel to finding partners and raising the necessary funds to launch a renewable natural gas project.
Nearly 250 million tons of municipal waste flow out of US cities each year and almost one-third is food and yard waste. Millions of additional tons are produced by universities and hospitals, food processors and agricultural operations, the report says.
Technologies that can collect and refine biogas from this waste stream and turn it into RNG for local fleets of buses, trucks and cars already exists, the report says.
A number of public-private partnerships are already beginning to produce RNG to fuel fleet vehicles, including a project in Fair Oaks, Ind., that converts liquid manure from more than 11,500 dairy cows into enough energy and fuel to power the entire farm and its 42-truck milk delivery fleet.
Earlier this month, Clean Energy Fuels became the the first company to commercially distribute a renewable natural gas vehicle fuel made from waste streams such as landfills, large dairies and sewage plants directly to fleets around the country and at 35 public Clean Energy stations throughout California.
Thousands of cars, taxis, shuttles and industrial fleets in California are now using Clean Energy’s renewable fuel, called Redeem, which is up to 90 percent cleaner than diesel, the natural gas provider says.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said business can cut emissions 20 percent to 30 percent with RNG.